Laws of Sukkos-Chapter 9: The Aravos

This article is an excerpt from our Sefer

   Buy now here or on

Chapter 9: The Aravos


The Meaning of the Arava:

The unity within the Arava:[1] The Arava is a big bushy tree that has its branches and leaves grow very close to each other. This represents brotherhood and was thus chosen for the Mitzvah of unity.

The representation of the Arava within Jewry: The Midrash[2] explains that the Arava represents the people who do not contain either Mitzvos or good deeds, as the Arava contains neither a good taste or smell. On the Holiday of Sukkos, all Jews unify together, including such Jews. The Baal Shem tov explains that the Arava represents t566he simple Jew, who serves Hashem with utter simplicity.

1. The identity of the Aravos:[3]

The Torah states that one is to take an Arvei Nachal. This refers to a well-known branch known as the willow branch.

Do Aravos have to grow by the water to be valid?[4] Although majority of Aravos grow near banks of water, all types of Aravos are valid, even if they grow in a desert or mountain, so long as they have all the signs to be explained.

2. Its Signs:[5]

The following are the signs of a Kosher Arava, as received from a Halacha LeMoshe Misinai.

  1. A red stem:[6] This means that the Arava comes from a tree that grows red stems. Thus, even if the branch is currently still green due to lack of sunlight, nevertheless it is valid, as it will eventually become red due to the sun.
  2. Long narrow leaves: The leaves of the Arava are not round, but rather are long and shaped like a brook; narrow and long.
  3. Not serrated:[7] The Arava leaves have smooth edges and are not serrated like a saw.[8] However, there is a species of Aravos that contains a red stem, and its leaves are shaped like a brook, although its leaves are not smooth and contain tiny serrations. This species of Arava is also considered smooth edged and is valid. If, however, the serrations are large like a saw, then they are invalid.

The Arava must have all three signs to be Kosher. An Arava that has red stems and long narrow leaves, but has large serrations, is invalid.[9] Thus, there is a certain species that looks similar to the Arava, although is invalid because it does not fulfill the above signs of validity. Its stem is not red, and its leaf is round, and its leaves are serrated like a saw. This species is called a Tzaftzafa and not an Arava and is invalid even in a time of need.



What is the law of an Arava branch with leaves growing on small branches as opposed to stem?[10]

An Arava stem which contains small branches on which the leaves grow, does not need to have these leaves and branches removed. Furthermore, the Arava remains Kosher even if it has no leaves growing on the actual stem but rather only on its branches. Nonetheless, it is proper for it to also contain some leaves on the branch.

Buying Aravos from a child:

See Chapter 4 Halacha 4E!

3. Length:[11]

The length of the Hadassim must be at least three Tefachim [24 cm.]

How much is three Tefachim? Some Poskim[12] rule that every Tefach is 4 Agudlin and hence four Tefachim is 12 Agudlin [24.5 cm.[13]] Other Poskim[14] rules that each Tefach is 3.33 Tefach and hence four Tefach is 10 Agudlin [20 cm[15]]. Practically, we are stringent to follow the first opinion [of 24 cm]. However, in a time of need one may be lenient to use a Lulav that has a spine of 20 cm. Likewise, Bedieved, if one already used such a Hadass and then found one with 24 centimeters, he should shake it without a blessing being that he has already fulfilled his obligation according to one opinion.[16]

From what area of the Hadass is the 24 cm. measured?[17] The 24 cm is measured from the bottom of the stem of the Hadass in the area that leaves begins to grow until the top of the stem, excluding the leaves that extend past the top of the stem.

Is there a maximum length for the Hadass?[18] There is no maximum Shiur of height for the Hadass, and it may be as tall as one desires, although one must be careful that the Lulav spine always extends one Tefach above the Hadassim, as stated in Chapter 6 Halacha 2. [Thus, the longer the Arava, the taller the Lulav must be. If the Arava is too long and hence covers the top one Tefach area of the spine of the Lulav, then the Arava is to be shortened from its bottom.]

4. Top Cut off:[19]

If the top of the Arava was cut off, it is Pasul.[20] This refers to that the actual wood branch of the Arava became cut and not just its top leaf. Therefore, if the Aravos are very long, one must beware to cut it specifically on the bottom of the Arava and not on the top. [If, however, only the top leaves were cut off, while the entire top part of the stem remains intact, then it is valid.[21]]



What is the law if the Lavluv was cut off?[22]

If the upper Lavluv leaf was cut off, the Arava nevertheless remains Kosher.[23] Nonetheless, it is a Hiddur Mitzvah to purchase a Arava whose Lavluv is still intact.[24] However, there is no need to specifically purchase an Arava with a Lavluv, so long as one can tell that the top of the Arava is intact.

Must one buy Aravos with a Lavluv?

Some are accustomed to buy Aravos with a Lavluv, as the Lavluv proves that the top of the Arava is still intact and has not been cut.

If the top of the Arava is folded over, is it Kosher?[25]


5. Leaves fell off:[26]

Bedieved-Letter of law: If majority of the Arava leaves fell off. the Arava is Pasul.[27] One must be very careful regarding this matter, as it occurs that upon inserting the Aravos into the [binding of the] Lulav, and likewise upon shaking the Lulav, that leaves fall off.[28] [It is thus advisable to check the Aravos daily to verify they still contain majority leaves. Likewise, it is advised to purchase a number of sets of Aravos on Erev Sukkos, which can be used in a case of need throughout Sukkos. When replacing the Aravos, one is not to stick the new Aravos into the knot of the Lulav, and rather one is to undo the knots and then place the new Aravos inside.[29]] If only minority of the leaves fell off, the Arava is valid.[30]

Lechatchila-Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar:[31] It is a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar to take an Arava which contains all its leaves. Thus, although a majority leaved Arava is valid, as explained above, nevertheless, Lechatchila one is not to take such an Arava if finding a fully leaved Arava of which none of its leaves fell off, is easily attainable. 


Must majority of the Shiur [i.e. 24 cm] still contain leaves or majority of the entire branch?[32]

Ø  Example: If the Arava is seven Tefachim long and is majority/fully leaved within its Shiur of three Tefachim, but is not leaved for the remaining four Tefachim, what is the law?

We follow majority of the Shiur of 24 centimeters and not majority of the branch.

What is status of the Hadass if majority of its leaves are broken?[33]

Some Poskim[34] rule that if majority of its leaves are broken in their majority, then the Hadass is invalid. If only minority of the Hadass contains broken leaves, it is valid.

If the Arava was originally Kosher, and the leaves fell off as a result of the shaking, is the Arava now invalid?

The Arava is invalid if majority of its leaves fell off as a result of the shaking.[35] However, some Poskim[36] suggest that the invalidation of an Arava due to the falling of its leaves is only in the event that one did not yet fulfill the Mitzvah with it. If, however, one already fulfilled the Mitzvah of Daled Minim with this Arava, such as on the 1st day of Sukkos, then it remains Kosher throughout Chol Hameod even if the leaves fall off due to the shaking.[37] Based on this suggestion, we can justify the custom of many to not bother to inspect the validity of the Aravos and its state of intact leaves throughout Chol Hamoed. Practically, one is to not rely on this approach, and is to perform a daily inspection of his Arava prior to doing the Mitzvah to verify its Kashrus state.[38]

Directives for Mivtzaim:

Those fulfilling the great and holy Mitzvah, and directive of the Rebbe, to merit other Jews with the shaking of Daled Minim, must be very careful to periodically verify throughout the day that their Aravos remain intact with majority of leaves. This especially applies when people shake the Lulav in a very strong way. A number of sets of Aravos should be brought with the person so he can change the branches as deemed necessary.


6. Dry Leaves:[39]

If majority of the leaves have dried, it is invalid.[40]

The definition of dry:[41] The definition of dry is if the leaves have dried to the extent, they lost their coloring and have turned white. If they have not yet turned white, they are valid even if they are dried to the point they are withered [and can be broken with one’s fingernail].

7. If the leaves droop downwards:[42]

If majority of the leaves have become detached from their original place of growth and hence droop down, they are invalid, even though they still remain slightly attached to the actual stem and have yet to actually fall off.



What is the law if the leaves droop downwards but are fully attached to the stem?

Some Poskim[43] question its validity. [Although, from Admur it is implied that they remain valid.]

8. Leaves have split:[44]

If majority of the leaves have split in two, in majority of their length, the Arava is Pasul.

9. Kashrus-Arla, Teruma Maaser:[45]

Lulavim are not subject to the restrictions of Arla, and do not require Terumos and Maasros to be removed from them, and therefore no such invalidation exists by the Lulav, unlike by an Esrog.

10. Shemita-Kedushas Shevi’is:[46]

Aravos do not contain Kedushas Shevi’is or the prohibition of Sefichin.


[1] Siddur Im Dach Shaar Halulav p. 264

[2] Vayikra Raba 30:12

[3] Admur 647:1; Michaber 647:1; Rambam Sukkah 7:3

[4] Admur 647:1

[5] Admur 647:1; Michaber 647:1; Rambam Sukkah 7:3

[6] Admur 647:1

[7] Admur 647:2; Michaber 647:1; Rambam ibid; Tur 646; Taz 646:3

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that a slightly serrated Hadass is only valid if its serrations are one sided, otherwise it is considered a Meser and is invalid. [Tur 647 in name of Rashi; Chayeh Adam 150:9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 647:1]

[8] Admur 647:1

[9] Admur 647:1-2

[10] Shevet Halevi 7:61; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:313; Piskeiy Teshuvos 647:2

[11] Admur 646:3; 650:1; Michaber 650:1; Sukkah 32b

[12] 1st and Stam opinion in Admur ibid; 3rd opinion in Michaber ibid; Rambam ibid; Tana Kama in Sukkah ibid

[13] Shiureiy Torah of Rav Avraham Chaim Na’ah, however according to the Chazon Ish, it needs to be 30 cm. tall. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[14] 2nd opinion in Admur ibid; 1st opinion in Michaber ibid; Raavad and Rosh; Rebbe Tarfon in Sukkah ibid

[15] Shiureiy Torah of Rav Avraham Chaim Na’ah, however according to the Chazon Ish, it needs to be 25 cm. tall. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[16] Admur ibid; Rama 650:1

[17] Piskeiy Teshuvos 650:1

[18] Admur 650:2; Michaber 650:1; Maharitz Geios

[19] Admur 647:4; 1st opinion in Michaber 647:2; Mishneh Sukkah 33b; Maggid Mishneh; Rosh 3:13; Raavad in Tamim Dei’im 231

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the Arava is Kosher even its top was cut off, just like we rule regarding the Haadas. [Elya Raba 647, brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah 647:3]

[20] The reason: The reason for this is because it is no longer considered Hadar. [Admur ibid]

[21] M”B 647:10

[22] Chaim Ubracha 246; Piskeiy Teshuvos 647:4; Kashrus Daled Minim p. 139

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that an Arava must have a Lavluv. [Shiltei Hagiborim Sukkah 33b, brought in Bach 647; Meiri Sukkah ibid; See Chaim Ubracha and Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 13] Accordingly, some are accustomed to specifically purchase an Arava with a Lavluv. [Chaim Ubracha ibid]

[23] The reason: As the Lavluv is a mere leaf and only when the actual branch is cut is the Arava invalidated.

[24] See M”B 647:11

[25] Piskeiy Teshuvos 647:3

[26] Admur 647:5

[27] Admur ibid; Michaber 647:2; Tur 647; Mishneh Sukkah 33b as understands Rosh Sukkah 3:13

The reason: As it is no longer considered Hadar. [ibid]

[28] Admur ibid; M”A 647:1; Elya Raba 651:6

[29] Bikureiy Yaakov 654:4; M”B 654:4

[30] Admur ibid; Michaber 647:3; Mishneh ibid

[31] Admur ibid; M”A 647:3 in implication of Michaber 647:2 that Lechatchila one should not use such an Arava; Machatzis Hashekel ibid; Kaf Hachaim 647:19; Alef Hamagen 647:13; Nitei Gavriel 22:2

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the Arava is Kosher even initially if it is only missing minority of leaves. [Elya Raba 647:6, brought in Machatzis Hashekel ibid; Bikureiy Yaakov 647:9; Chaim Ubracha 223; See Nitei Gavriel 22:2]

[32] Zechor Leavraham 6 Lulav; Mishnas Yaakov 647; Nitei Gavriel 22:4; See Admur 646:3 regarding the Hadass that the majority Meshulash leaves are only required within their Shiur of 24 cm!

[33] Piskeiy Teshuvos 647:3

[34] Orchos Chaim Spinka 647:4; Daas Torah 647; See Bikureiy Yaakov 646:4 in name of Raavad in Tamim Deim;

[35] Admur ibid and M”A ibid “And likewise through the shaking”; Setimas Kol Haposkim; See also Admur 649:18 and Michaber 649:5

[36] Hisorerus Teshuvah 3; See Tzitz Eliezer 9:32 in name of Terumas Hadeshen Pesakim 52; Piskeiy Teshuvos 648:17 footnote 45-46

[37] The reason: As it is considered “Shiyurei Mitzvah” or Mitzvah leftovers. Now, although we find no precedence in the Poskim regarding such a concept regarding the Hadass or Arava, we do find it regarding Tzitzis, that if it later tore to below the Shiur, it nonetheless remains valid under certain conditions. [Hisorerus Teshuvah ibid]

[38] So is clearly implied from Admur ibid who warns one to be very careful with the shaking that a) It is invalid for the rest of Sukkos if it falls off and we do not apply the rule of Shiyurei Mitzvah; b) One has an obligation to verify this matter, hence the warning of “One must be very careful”

[39] Admur 647:7; Michaber 647:2; Mishneh Sukkah 33b

[40] The reason: As it is no longer considered Hadar. [Admur ibid]

[41] Admur ibid; Raavad Tamim Deim 232; See Michaber ibid

Other Opinions: The Michaber ibid does not state what level of dryness makes the Aravos invalid. Thus, some Poskim are stringent if the leaves can be broken with the nail even if they have not turned white. [Sefer Arba Minim by Rav Shtern]

[42] Admur 647:7; Michaber 647:2; Rambam Sukkah 8:3; Mishneh Sukkah 33b; M”A 647:2; M”B 647:9

[43] Chazon Ish 146:35; Piskeiy Teshuvos 647:3 [see there footnote 8-9]; Kashrus Daled Minim p. 141

[44] Admur 647:7

[45] See Rashi Sukkah 33b; Michaber Y.D. 294; Piskeiy Teshuvos 649:6

An Arava of Mudar Hanah: See Admur 649:16 and 19 that it is invalid on the first day, although is valid on the other days.

[46] Piskeiy Teshuvos 649:7

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.